In Patagonia, spring is for dry flies | Hatch Journal
Fly fishers are likely to depend on notion. And that notion typically turns into our actuality. For a lot of Northern Hemisphere anglers, notably those that fish the high-elevation rivers and streams of the Rocky Mountain West, we spend the months of Might and June dredging deep runs in cloudy water hoping to drag a giant, belligerent trout off the underside as we energy via heavy, turbid spring flows. The oldsters out east could get to take pleasure in springtime dry fly fishing, however these of us who stay the place towering snow-capped peaks predominate the panorama, spring is runoff season.
In order that’s our notion. Early season trout have to be fished deep and we simply must adapt to heavy, soiled water as a way to get at them.
Once I visited Chilean Patagonia — whose geography and local weather is definitely extra akin to that of the northern Rockies than it’s to the low-lying Appalachians within the east — in November, I did some fast math. I famous that December, with its solstice, is the equal of a North American June. Due to this fact, within the land of opposites, I deduced that November in Chile would look quite a bit like Might right here within the western U.S.
I loaded my fly field with bead-head nymphs, weighted San Juan Worms and heavy streamers, figuring that I’d be dredging for the area’s large browns and rainbows and taking solace in the truth that, as I carried out my least-favorite fly fishing self-discipline (nymphing), I’d not less than get to see the Andes and the coastal mountains round Coyhaique and get a really feel for the realm. Maybe, one other time, I may return throughout excessive summer time and commit a visit to dry-fly angling.
Oh, how I like to be confirmed fallacious. And I’ve Eduardo Guarda to thank for that. The proprietor of three vacation spot fishing lodges in Chile, Eduardo was fast to direct me to the fly-tying vise at his Magic Waters Lodge, which is idyllically nestled on the shores of a really fishy lake roughly 30 miles exterior of the town of Coyhaique.
“You want dry flies,” he advised me. “Huge dry flies. Chernobyls. Huge hoppers. Ants. Mayflies.”
Huh? Within the spring? Because the snow runs off the Andes and turns all of the rivers to chocolate?
No matter, dude. I tied just a few half-hearted foam beetles and a few hoppers, all of the whereas doubting the man who runs the fishing operation. As a result of my notion, after all, was my actuality.
After which we went fishing.
As Eduardo led us on a brief jaunt throughout a pasture to the higher Rio Munoz — a modestly-sized spring creek that meanders via high-meadow ranchland, providing a seemingly limitless conveyor belt of cutbanks and bend swimming pools — it turned apparent that my notion wasn’t price a rattling. As we approached the water, the very first thing I observed was a hearty big-fish rise ring proper alongside the financial institution. At Eduardo’s insistence, I tied on a dimension 6 Fats Albert, and solid the fly throughout the modestly murky spring creek and let it plop onto the water about 5 ft from the place I noticed the rise.
And, like clockwork, an 18-inch brown laid waste to the fly.
“Identical to that?” I requested, getting the fish on the reel.
“Identical to that,” Eduardo mentioned. I ran out of dry flies shortly after lunch, and spent the afternoon plying Eduardo for extra. The following day, on Panatalli Spring Creek — the place lushly vegetated, verdant banks and deep, sluggish, weedbed-lined swimming pools supplied a wholly totally different fishing expertise from that on the Munoz — mayflies had been on the menu. Panatalli’s rainbows and browns rose cautiously, however readily, to numerous high-floating Catskill, parachute, and spinner patterns from the second we stepped on the creek till the dinner bell known as us off the river and again to the lodge.
Hooked to a feisty rainbow on Panatalli Spring Creek (picture: Earl Harper).
The following few evenings, whereas the opposite Magic Waters Lodge visitors loved dessert within the eating room or pisco sours across the funkiest pool desk in Patagonia, I hunched over the vise and tied not less than a dozen extra Fatties and a handful of dimension 10 Adams.
And I do know what you’re considering. Our first locations had been spring creeks, the least-impacted watersheds relating to runoff, proper? Honest sufficient. However fact be advised, regardless of the place we fished over the course of the following two weeks, whether or not it was a freestone stream tumbling off the Andes, the Rio Paloma, an emerald-green rainforest waterpark, or the backcountry stunner, the Rio Mogote, our guides instructed us to begin with a dry fly. And, typically talking, a giant dry fly.
Later within the journey, on the Rio Blanco primarily based out of Eduardo’s River of Goals basecamp, the fly of selection was an honest-to-God Morish Mouse. We even launched Eduardo’s sturdy cata-rafts on a few space lakes, and, as soon as once more, we hunted rising fish and threw ungodly huge dry flies at large trout that gave the impression to be continually trying up.
A lot for notion.
Actually, it bought downright foolish on the Mogote, which, regardless of its course via the mountains within the Patagonian spring, flowed completely clear. After a brief horseback trip into the river’s extra distant reaches, my information for the day, Ives, tied a dimension 8 Stimulator to my tippet and slowly walked the rocky river financial institution with me. Younger Ives has the eyes of a flats information, and he noticed two sizable trout holding on the sting of some quick water, just under a tailout. He pointed on the fish.
“There,” he mentioned. “Solid.”
Extra notion got here into play. Fly fishing is about the one factor I do the place I take the time to be really calculating. I took one take a look at the place the trout had been holding and instantly began to stroll upstream a bit, realizing that I’d want a very good attain solid, a giant mend, the suitable angle and a hell of loads of luck to get a stable drift over these fish.
“What are you doing?” Ives requested. I launched into an animated rationalization about the suitable line, the proper angle and a brief mathematical treatise that happened as near trigonometry as I’ve been since my freshman 12 months in faculty, however Ives wouldn’t have it. He shook his head and held up his hand.
“Simply solid,” he mentioned. “Don’t fear concerning the drift.”
This child has quite a bit to be taught, I assumed. I’ll present him.
Casting dry flies on Rio Mogote (picture: Chad Shmukler).
As instructed, I grumpily threw the floatant-laden Stimulator into the present above the trout mendacity in wait. The fly landed completely and it drifted on precisely the suitable line … for a couple of half a second. Then, as my concept proved true, even with the attain solid and a determined mend, the Mogote grabbed my chief and began to drag the fly alongside the floor with sufficient velocity to create a frothy wake.
I checked out Ives as if to say, See? I advised you so, you little shit, solely to note that he was watching my fly skate over the trout. I seemed again on the river and watched in disbelief as the primary huge brown left its lie within the mushy water and gave chase to the fly as my chief unceremoniously dragged it downstream.
“What the …” I uttered, watching the state of affairs unfold in entrance of my eyes. Ives simply smiled. I used to be so stunned by the scenario that I missed the fish because it desperately tried to get on the Stimulator earlier than it entered some uneven water and disappeared altogether.
The fly, nicely out of attain of the fish, skied throughout the river and stretched my fly line out beneath me. I watched because the brown – perhaps 17 inches of river-conditioned salmonid – moved proper again to its lie forward of the second trout that was roughly the identical dimension. Might it’s? Might I get one other shot at this fish? Or, perish the thought, the opposite fish?
“Solid once more,” Ives mentioned.
I lifted the rod and instantly felt resistance. Considering I’d snagged up on a rock or a chunk of drowned wooden, I turned downstream and watched as my chief and fly line began to maneuver off the financial institution and into the present. I used to be hooked as much as one other fish that apparently couldn’t resist the skated Stimmy. A couple of minutes later, Ives posed for a photograph with a pleasant Rio Mogote brown trout, the glad accident that occurred regardless of my close-minded strategy to spring angling in Chile.
As soon as once more, my notion had failed me. And it was a very good lesson. From then on, for concerning the subsequent two weeks, I put my notion on the shelf. Spring in Patagonia isn’t essentially like spring in Idaho. And a skated Stimulator in a gin-clear, backcountry river can, certainly, pull a chunky brown out of its comfy resting place.
Eduardo was proper. I wanted extra dry flies. I put the lodge’s vise via its paces on that journey. For those who’re good, and when you’re fortunate sufficient to fly fish Chilean Patagonia anytime quickly, you’ll go to highschool on my defective notion. Tie flies at residence. Spend your time on the lodge having fun with cocktails and enjoying pool.
Spring in Patagonia is for dry flies. Don’t imagine me? Properly, I can’t blame you. You simply may need to see it for your self.